Pieter-Steph du Toit ’ready to go’ after long injury hiatus
CAPE TOWN - Stormers assistant coach Rito Hlungwani says Pieter-Steph du Toit is “ready to go” after recovering from the serious leg injury that kept him out for more than a year.
The Springbok star suffered a serious, and what turned into a very complicated, leg injury in their Super Rugby meeting with the Blues at Newlands in February last year.
The Stormers will kick off their Rainbow Cup South Africa campaign against the Sharks at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, and Hlungwani confirmed that Du Toit is ready to hit the field again.
“He is fit, he’s been training really well. He hasn’t played in a long time, so he would love to play and get going. He has obviously come back from a really bad injury, but you know how he is. He has a big engine, he is a hard worker, and he has been really good around the players. Everyone is happy to have him back and he’s just ready to go,” Hlungwani said.
Hlungwani also spoke about the balance of the Stormers loose trio and what the different guys in that mix can contribute. “If we operate with Nama (Xaba), Pieter-Steph and Evan Roos, it sort of gives us a different balance compared to before,” he said.
“When we would go with Jaco Coetzee (at No 6), Juarno Augustus (at 8) and say Ersnt van Rhyn at 7 ... those guys all have a big ball-carrying mindset.
“But now we’ve also got guys with big engines, maybe they don’t carry the ball as well as a Trokkie, but in terms of our engine and our work rate, I think the balance is a little bit different and we are happy with the way it’s going at this stage.”
It wouldn’t be unrealistic to expect Du Toit to feature off the bench against the Sharks given his extended lay-off period, but considering the fact that the British & Irish Lions Series is fast approaching, it could also be that we won’t see much easing in where the reigning World Rugby Player of the Year is concerned.
On that matter Hlungwani didn’t touch, but he did mention that what the likes of Du Toit and Augustus bring in terms of physical presence remain important to their mission, regardless of what the make-up of their back row looks going forward. “Balance is crucial for us.
“We still want to have a dominant set-piece, we still want to have quick breakdowns, we still want to hit the advantage line, we want to get that balance right,” Hlungwani said.